The Early Years at St James’ C of E consists of Reception and a Forest Pre-school and Nursery as part of the St James’ School family. We believe that every child should be treated as an individual and we work together to ensure each child is respected, nurtured and reach their full potential.
At St James’ we want our Early Years children to be resilient, independent, imaginative learners with an eagerness to explore the world around them. We want our children to learn from the local area, be proud of where they live and where they are from. We want our children to leave the Early Years with memorable life and learning opportunities, which they may not experience outside of school, giving them the skills they need for later in life. The meaningful relationships they form with their peers and adults are important to ensure that children are encouraged to achieve their full potential and know that they are valued. We want children to know that their ambitions are limitless! As the majority of the children have English as an additional language, we have designed a vocabulary rich curriculum aiming to expose the children to a wide range of books and inspiring authors. Staff aim to develop a children’s love of reading. We want our curriculum to be a child-centred inspirational learning process which supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. Following the child’s interests is important to develop the child’s curiosity for learning and we want the child to be active in their learning. We aim to develop confidence and self-esteem through child inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting where children feel safe, stimulated and happy.
Our Early Years (which include Reception, Forest Pre – School and Nursery) offers a high quality, structured early years’ curriculum. This ensures our children make the best transition to school with strong foundations in early reading (phonics), writing and maths. The strong blend of educational approaches helps learners develop socially, emotionally, spiritually, physically and intellectually. The curriculum is defined by the Early Years Foundation Stage, which sets out seven areas of learning, and identifies what children should be able to do by the end of the EYFS (early learning goals).
There are three Prime areas: Personal, Social and Emotional Development, Communication and Language and Physical Development. The four Specific Areas are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World and Expressive Arts and Design. At St James’, a blended curriculum design is followed to ensure the statutory areas of the curriculum are secured alongside developing the whole child. This is to ensure the children leave ready for the next stage in their education having had a balance of child led and adult led learning opportunities. Planning for Forest Schools largely focusses on the three Prime areas, where staff facilitate and develop children’s interests. Planning for the Specific areas of learning are inspired by class texts selected to develop children’s vocabulary, language acquisition and love for reading.
Staff use the curriculum overview to plan forest school activities and daily mathematics, literacy and phonics activities. We have a fidelity to ‘Read Write Inc.’ programme developed by Ruth Miskin. The children are taught the sounds in three sets and reading books are linked to the sounds they are learning; supplemented with additional reading materials. It aims to build children’s speaking and listening skills, as well as preparing children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills.
Other areas of the curriculum are planned for through continuous provision, play opportunities and adult led activities. These ensure pupils have the opportunities to show the characteristics of effective learning. Staff are encouraged to consider the individual needs, interests and development of each child in their care. They are encouraged to use this information to plan challenging and enjoyable experiences for each child in all areas of learning and development. Staff, including qualified teacher(s) in preschool and nursery, work in partnership with families and external support agencies to ensure all individual children’s needs are met.
Progression is planned for over the Early Years curriculum. Skills and knowledge are developed through repetition, sequencing and effective explanations to ensure learning is secured. For example, over the course of the Reception year the PSHE curriculum is planned for progression. The children start with learning to value themselves as an individual, progressing to expressing their emotions and understanding the feelings of others. In the last term the children are then guided to develop resilience in the face of challenge.
For example, over the course of the Reception year the Literacy curriculum is planned for progression. At the start of the year the children learn to recognise and correctly form the letters of the alphabet. Following this, the children begin to read and write simple words and captions. By the end of the year the children are reading short stories with confidence and understanding.
The children’s learning in EYFS is assessed through both formative and summative assessment. Children in Reception complete the Reception Baseline Assessment (RBA) which is a short, task-based summative assessment of a child’s early literacy, communication, language, and mathematics skills in September when they start school. It is statutory for all schools from September 2021. Further information about the RBA can be found in the Information for Parents link.
Staff use this alongside other information to inform planning and identify targets. Further teacher assessment periods throughout the year and regular observations are completed to inform planning and interventions, with the Reception profile completed to identify children who have achieved a Good Level of Development by the end of Reception. Children in Nursery and Pre-school are assessed through formative assessment, including observations, assessing what the children can do and what they know. Nursery staff support the two-year-old check, which is completed by the child’s Health Visitor.
These assessments and the children’s progress are reported to parents/ carers at regular intervals throughout the year, including parent meetings and end of year reports. Daily updates are given verbally. Each child in Early Years will be assigned a key worker who is responsible for the child’s wellbeing and how well they are progressing. They will provide these updates and contribute to assessments as part of the Early Years Team.
Early Years Provision is monitored regularly by Phase Leaders and the Senior Leadership Team through learning walks, analysis and moderation of assessment data and through staff and pupil conferencing.
At the end of the preschool year, children leave St James’ equipped with the skills required for a formal curriculum in Reception. The children continue to flourish in their time in Reception leaving the Early Years with the skills, knowledge and attributes needed for their future education. Children are resilient, eager to join in, enjoy challenge and are independent learners with a love for learning. They are confident, risk takers and feel valued as their interests will have inspired their learning. They will look back at their first few years of education with a fondness and remember their exciting lessons. They will enjoy reading, have a developing range of vocabulary through exploring a wide variety of texts and have a secure understanding in all areas of the curriculum. Our Forest school ‘rewilding’ project has inspired a deep and meaningful connection to the world and an understanding of how they fit within it. Children will leave Early Years knowing the importance of themselves and their contributions to the world and area that they live.
The statutory requirements for the EYFS can be accessed using the following link EYFS Statutory Requirements.